CAIRO – The Republican Party’s candidate for the American presidency, Donald Trump, is clearly not the GOP establishment’s first choice. Even this close to the November 8 election, more than a few prominent Republicans refuse to endorse him, and it goes without saying that Democrats loathe him. He won his party’s nomination because he was by far the most popular choice among Republican primary voters.
On the other hand, the centrist Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is clearly an establishment candidate. Still, to clinch her party’s nomination, she had to combat a strong challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders, a declared socialist whose political leanings are far left of hers, and whose message resonated particularly among younger primary voters.
The Trump and Sanders phenomena suggest that American voters are uncomfortable with traditional political choices. According to recent polls, Trump and Clinton are running within 5% of each other, and both have historically high unfavorable ratings. Regardless of who wins, Americans will most likely elect their next president not because they like their choice, but because they dislike the alternative.
So far, the two candidates seem to be focusing less on policy alternatives and more on their opponent’s character flaws: the Clinton campaign describes Trump as lacking the appropriate temperament, knowledge, and experience to be president, and the Trump campaign portrays Clinton as a corrupt political opportunist.